More than 100 days after he stole his latest reelection, it is safe to say that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has gotten away with the crime. Other leaders in the region may be studying his methods, which makes it all the more important for democracy advocates to do the same.
Ecuador’s government is preparing to move forward with an oil-drilling project that will disrupt the life of indigenous tribes and damage the country’s—and the world’s—ecological patrimony. Although a significant number of Ecuadorians oppose the decision, the administration’s repressive policies toward the media and civil society are preventing an open debate.
Five years ago, the Maldives elected a new leader, Mohamed Nasheed, in the first free and fair balloting in the country’s history. But Nasheed was forced from office in 2012, and with his political and institutional rivals now threatening to scuttle fresh elections this weekend, the democratic gains of recent years hang in the balance.
Last Monday, a jeep plowed through a group of pedestrians on Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square, killing at least five people and injuring dozens before going up in flames beneath a portrait of Mao Zedong. Chinese officials promptly took control of the narrative, claiming that the event was a premeditated attack by members of the Uighur ethnic group, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from China’s northwest. Lest anyone suggest otherwise, the authorities arrested foreign journalists covering the scene and promptly censored discussions on Chinese social networks.
In the days since the United States announced a partial cutoff of military aid to Egypt based on human rights concerns, foreign policy experts and commentators have been asking what it all means. Is it a wrongheaded blunder? Too little, too late? Is the United States losing Egypt?
For some time now, democracy promotion has been under concentrated attack from authoritarian sources ranging from Robert Mugabe and Vladimir Putin to the leaders of Venezuela. More recently, criticism has spread to the democratic world, with the United States front and center.
Since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in May 2012, Russia has seen a flurry of restrictive new regulations regarding online freedom of expression, resulting in a score decline for the country in the latest edition of Freedom on the Net. However, even greater deterioration is likely in the coming year as the government continues to enact repressive laws and ramps up its surveillance capabilities ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the southern city of Sochi.
The presidential election in Azerbaijan on October 9 was contorted by rigging, fraud, and other irregularities that blocked any chance for a rotation of power. But it revealed almost nothing new about the former Soviet republic’s hollowed-out governance institutions, as the lack of genuine democracy was well documented before the election. More remarkable is the international community’s mild response to this electoral sham—a disheartening testament to the West’s prioritization of strategic and economic relationships with the oil-rich Caspian Sea state over the protection of human rights and democratic values.